Urinary tract infections are quite common in women, and could occur during the course of pregnancy. The following HerHaleness write-up provides information on the causes of UTI in pregnant women.
UTI stands for urinary tract infection. Pregnant women are susceptible to this infection due to the changes that take place in the urinary tract. The ureters get compressed due to the pressure from the expanding uterus, which makes it difficult for the urine to flow through quickly. This makes it easier for the bacteria to travel up to the bladder. Moreover, the increase in the level of progesterone in the body relaxes the muscles of the bladder and urinary tract, which might make it difficult to empty the bladder fully. Bacteria are likely to flourish in such conditions. It must be noted that bacteriuria (a significant number of bacteria in urine) may or may not cause symptoms.
As mentioned earlier, UTI can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Some of the women who develop a UTI during pregnancy might experience the following symptoms:
- Pain, burning sensation, and discomfort while urinating
- Lower abdominal pain, sometimes just above the pubic bone
- Pelvic discomfort
- Urge to urinate more than usual
- Feeling of urgency to urinate
- Mucus or blood in urine
- Abdominal cramps
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Back pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Since urinary urgency and frequency increases in women who are pregnant, they may not realize that they might be suffering from UTI. If left untreated, the bacteria can travel towards the kidneys, thereby causing a kidney infection. Thus, they should consult a doctor on experiencing the aforementioned symptoms. The treatment usually involves antibiotic therapy. Doctors prescribe antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy. These antibiotics may need to be taken for just 3 to 7 days. It is important that affected women complete the course of antibiotics. If the infection spreads, it may lead to problems such as premature birth, low birth weight in babies, and in extreme cases, miscarriage.
The following measures can be taken to reduce the chances of infection.
- You should drink about 6 to 8 glasses of water everyday. This will help flush out the toxins through urine and prevent bacterial growth.
- After a bowel movement, wipe yourself from front to back. This is to prevent the bacteria in the stool from moving towards the urethra.
- Drink fresh cranberry juice everyday. Cranberry juice prevents the growth of bacteria in the bladder.
- Make sure you wear clean, cotton undergarments. Don’t wear tight-fitting underpants.
- Keep your genital area clean. Avoid the use of strong, perfumed soaps, douches, and feminine hygiene sprays. Clean the area with mild soap and water.
- Urinate before and after having sex.
- Do not hold back, and pass urine whenever you have an urge to urinate.
It is very important that you seek timely medical help for proper diagnosis and treatment. This is the only way to prevent a serious kidney infection, as well as preterm labor. Take good care of yourself. Remember, a mother’s health directly affects the health of the fetus.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.